The Bruins would have been golfing a long time ago had the Maple Leafs not blown a 3-goal lead in Game 7 of the first round. The Bruins faithful were booing their team when it was 4-1 but that all changed didn't it? Since that game 7 Boston has won 7 games and lost 1, and have now put the mighty Penguins on the brink of elimination.
Nathan Horton said after game 2 of this series that the comeback against the Leafs springboarded the team. No shit. It's as if the team as a whole decided to go back to being their bastard selves that won them the Stanley Cup in 2011. I mean that as a compliment. Yea, they play dirty, but who cares? They more-importantly are playing a system that Claude Julien and Co have put into place and every player is buying into it. Combine that buy-in with their size, speed, skill and grit and they have a huge chance at repeating as Cup champians.
I was saying in a comments section somewhere that watching this Bruins-Penguins series is giving me flashbacks of the 2011 Final. The Penguins' speed and skill is getting slowed and dumbed down, as the Bruins box out in front of Tuukka Rask. I mean, how often do you see Rask make a big save and the rebound gets cleared out? How often do you see him have to make 2 big saves after a rebound is let out?
The Penguins get credit for making adjustments. In game 2 they gave up way too much defensively to try break the Bruins' D and they paid for it. Boston loves it when teams pinch in with their D and go balls-out offence because they block shots, knock guys over, give them no space and steal pucks and break out the other way, a lot of times with an odd-man rush.
So in Game 3 the Penguins tighten up the D and played a much better game. A more patient game, and threw shots from all over the place at Rask, who stopped over 50 shots. Some of them great saves, most of them your typical shots from the outside because the Bruins....box them out. Ringing a bell at all?
So I will give them kudos.
I also look at that team and wish the Canucks were built that way. I wish they were coached that way. Mike Gillis talks about a more offensive-style from his team all the time but let's face it: it doesn't work in the playoffs. Fans whine and bitch about boring defensive hockey but WHAT WINS? Defence first. All that money spent on defencemen here and I think it's wrong. Bieksa, Hamhuis, Edler, Garrison...all guys that have knack for playing as offensive defencemen. To me it's a wrong direction. Need more stay-at-home defencemen on the roster. Defencemen who cost less but get the job done as grunts so money can be spent where it is more needed: up front. The 4 D I mentioned will cost the Canucks over $18 million.
Examples: The only Blackhawk defenceman with a lot of points is Duncan Keith. (The Hawks actually have a lot of money tied up in defencemen, but they also have Brandon Saad and Andrew Shaw and don't have money tied up in goaltenders.) The only Kings defenceman with a lot of points: Slava Voynov, not Drew Doughty. Any other defenceman on that team is a plugger...why? Because the Kings play defence. Only two Penguins defencemen have double digits in points: Kris Letang and Paul Martin. The rest are all pluggers. For the Bruins it's Chara, with a slice of Torey Krug.
The Bruins have 4 lines that can chip in on the scoresheet. Well, there are guys like Chris Kelly and Tyler Seguin who are experiencing droughts (Kelly with no points in 15 games and Seguin with 4). But they are still playing the system.
So while I can appreciate that Mike Gillis wants to make the Canucks bigger and younger I am not overly thrilled. He needs to get on board with the defensive style of play and hire a coach that can coach it.
Gillis has said that he wants to build the Canucks using the Red Wings model. I think that would be good from a drafting standpoint. But when it comes to style of play:
Watch the Bruins, Mike.
How's that for blasphemy, Canucks fans?
PS: Sure, this post may sound premature because the Pens could come back, or the winner of the Hawks-Kings series could beat Boston in the Finals. However, I am saying that, if the Bruins remain healthy, none of the above is happening.